— America’s Grocery Stores Applaud Relief from Unreasonable Fees —

ARLINGTON, VA — June 25, 2010 — The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) applauds the House and Senate conferees working on financial reform regulation for reaching a compromise on the proper regulation of abusive interchange swipe fees.   

     “FMI and our members have had interchange fee reform at the top of our list of priority issues for the past decade,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, FMI president and chief executive officer. “These fees represent the fastest growing expense of our retail members and the only one over which we have zero control. This compromise is a good deal for consumers and is a strong step forward for competition. I feel confident that our customers have much to gain in the way of discounts and lower prices. We applaud the House and Senate conferees for their leadership.”

     American consumers have been paying more than $50 billion a year in hidden interchange fees to credit card companies and banks. Interchange fees are collected by banks and credit card companies each time a consumer uses a credit or debit card to make a purchase and ultimately these fees lead to higher prices for all consumers. Since these fees are hidden, consumers are unaware of the costs associated with their cards.

     Grocers operate on margins of 1 to 2 percent and swipe fees can cost more than 2 percent of a transaction.

     FMI has represented the voices of more than 26,000 supermarkets to address the outrageous fees and to negotiate reasonable swipe fees. FMI promoted the need for fair credit and debit card swipe fees in a morning drive time radio advertising campaign in the Washington, DC area June 14-17.

     FMI is also a founding member of the Merchants Payments Coalition (MPC), a group of nearly 100 associations representing retailers, supermarkets, drug stores, convenience stores, fuel stations, online merchants and other businesses that accept debit and credit cards. FMI serves as the chairman of the legislative subcommittee of the MPC. FMI and the coalition have been fighting for more than 5 years for a more competitive and transparent card system. The coalition’s member associations collectively represent some 2.7 million stores with about 50 million employees.